I'm figuring this out, going slow for me which is fast for others, but soon I am going to break ground on what would be a major story of our time. While other writers and would-be writers are spending their entire lives now on social media posting about coronavirus, I have been coming up with a story that does what "First Responder" and "Fitty" do--takes something in the news and presents it in a way that nothing reported in the news does, with that built-in timeliness while also being a work of art that transcends any age. I know this one will be big, as an artistic undertaking, and it would be big in terms of response and reaction, too, if I was able to get it out there in the right forum, but that stands where it stands right now. At what point do you wish you didn't think up more works of art? Because for me, I have fifty stories in my head at present, after just having written eighty-five stories while a dozen are in progress. I almost ask them to stop coming to me, but they just do, it's like there is nothing I can do about it.
If I was beloved by this industry, they couldn't all be seen right now, because even if I had full industry support the machinery isn't in place to get this many stories by one person out in to the world where they can be seen. New machinery--new modes of market--would have to be created. There would have to be a magazine or a website devoted entirely to one person's fiction, there would have to be multiple volumes of stories coming out each year; The New Yorker would have to say they're publishing one story a week by the same person for a full year as an unprecedented move. The stories are good enough to support that, and they're certainly different enough from story to story. But the demand is not there right now, in large part because of the blackballing and the push to make me invisible, to suppress.
Anyway. This story--which will not mention coronavirus by name, because I don't want it to be limited to a given pandemic--is called "Change of Gauge." The title refers to a kind of flight, in which the flight number remains the same, though there is more than one airplane involved. There are pilots who have been flying so-called ghost planes, as part of business contracts and various flight regulations, where a certain number of hours must be flown, even though there is no one on these planes. This story involves one of those.
I look at some things and it's like, geez, if someone had told you this would be what was going on, twenty years ago, you'd be so stoked. First novel coming out, another story collection, doing a 33 1/3 book, writing the op-eds in the big places, doing the arts and sports stuff, sitting on a major short story like this. I would have been so wrong. This should be an absolute blast, a delight to wake up every day and I should be in a nice place and excited to get to bed each night so I can let it rip again in the morning. Hopefully someday, hopefully soon.
It is later in the day now. I walked three miles, climbed the Monument five times, taped the Sam Cooke podcast, which featured a lot of talk about Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963, the subject of my 33 1/3 book. If I get to where I am trying to get, I think I would like to have my own podcast, like some behemoth of a podcast, number one in any market, which would be like a podcast version of this blog, with art, sports, music, literature, talking about what I write, my books, humanity, truth, human nature. You could do a four hour radio show like that every day. I find it ironic with this coronovirus scare that what is far more likely to get most of these people is heart disease, but there they go, eating what they eat, drinking what they drink, staying as sedentary as they stay. Shouldn't that be a larger concern for you? Shouldn't this scare help you refocus? How about all of the people who drive drunk? The danger they are to themselves and others. This should, if anything, be a reminder to live your life and live it less stupidly and with more self-awareness. You cannot convince me that there are not millions of people who do not love when something like this happens because it gives them something to post endlessly about on social media, to hunt for attention, to virtue signal, to whip up fear, to scold, to engage in their favorite game of holier-than-thou. Live your life and don't be an idiot. People not living their lives and being idiots is a far greater pandemic than any virus. You'd think it was the plague. It's not. Wash your hands, be mindful of the elderly and steer clear of them for a bit, stop trying to frighten people because there is nothing in your life, watch an Orson Welles film, read a little Dark March, mentor a young kid, ask out that person you've had a crush on, have less desserts, drink more water, stop putting sugar in your coffee, climb some stairs, go for a run, be a better friend, live up to your word, learn to squirt (joking!; don't forget the value of levity, which is different than being a sarcastic, whingy jackass on Twitter). There are all kinds of ways we die and are dead every single day. Put the bulk of your focus there. Remedy that. And just be smart with this other stuff.